Our Navy Needs More of the War, Less of the College
wrong time - wrong venue
Let’s take a look around the planet with a maritime national security lens, shall we?
The largest land war in Europe since WWII is raging on the north shore of the Black Sea.
The People’s Republic of China surpassed the United States of America as the world’s largest navy.
The Iranians are hijacking oil tankers willy-nilly.
The Western economy relies on undersea cables & pipelines we have allowed to go undefended and are now the subject of attention by mal-actors on the world stage.
The Navy is experiencing readiness and recruiting problems not seen since the 1970s.
There’s my top-5 off the top of my head this AM, yours may differ.
It sure seems to differ in Newport.
So, in the last week of April there was a 2-day symposium at the U.S. Naval War College, an opportune time to examine the most critically important challenges in 2023 - hopefully from a maritime perspective - wouldn’t you think?
Any conference, especially a 2-day affair with both on and off campus event locations, sure cost a lot of money and even more stacked manhours to plan, attend, participate, and manage.
We sure want to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze, right?
If you’re a regular here, you know where this is going. I warned everyone about this back in 2017. If you’re a new reader not fully up to speed on the broader portfolio we manage here at CDRSalamander, well, take a red pill and a seat.
Our war colleges are not what you think they are.
With each passing year there is less focus on war, and more on college. At the Naval War College, just getting additional time, money, faculty, and leadership focus on the “naval” portion has become a challenge with all the other ancillary agendas trying to keep pace with the cool kids cross-town at Salve Regina University.
Here’s a perfect example.
The Naval War College (NWC) will host its 9th annual Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Symposium, 26-28 April 2023, in Newport, Rhode Island. This year's theme is "Women, Peace, and Security in a Fragile World: Perspectives on Warfighting, Crisis Management, and Post-Conflict Transitions."
Well, let’s go in with an open mind. Perhaps there’s something here. Hope isn’t a plan, but when the Party demands things of you, hope is often all you have.
If you voluntarily attended (I am reliably told that Party cadre informed the proles that attendance was required for staff, at least online), what kind of panel discussions would you be able to listen to? Let’s browse over the agenda.
Some of our options on Day-1 are:
Women Insurgents in India’s Northeast.
Women on the Frontlines of Revolution in Myanmar.
Military Masculinities, Tactical Femininities, and the ‘Third Gender’ in Ashley’s War.
The Frailty Myth: The Case for Gender-Neutral Physical Fitness assessment practices among the United States Airmen.
At lunch, feel free to call a friend to confirm what year it is. If needed, step outside just to confirm you are at - the U.S. Naval War College.
Perhaps things are better after lunch.
Teaching Strategies in the National Security Affairs Program: Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment.
Mainstreaming WPS and Gender-based Analysis Plus at the Canadian Defence Academy.
OK. Just check you’re not at Barnard College, get a good night’s rest, and then see what Day-2 might bring.
Hey! There’s something about the Russo-Ukrainian War!
Russo-Ukraine War and Gendered Approaches to Strategic Competition.
Oh … well … hold on. There’s something about the Navy!
Bringing Women to the Helm of Strategic Plans and Operations in the U.S. Navy.
… wait … perhaps … is that kinetic?!?
Tackling Gender in Kinetic Operations.
Sigh. Well, that is what you get for picking the “Gender Perspectives in Strategic Plans and Military Operations“ track in the AM. Maybe if you picked the other track…what was it called? “Advancing Women’s Meaningful Participation in Peace and Security.“
Well, that might be enlightening, if not even an admirable goal. What jewels are to be found there?
Feminist Foreign Policies in Latin America.
Politics of Belonging: Men as Allies in the Meaningful Inclusion of Women in the Security Sector.
Well, after viewing a debasement like that, time for a coffee break and see if things get better.
Post-Conflict Development of Feminist Leadership: Peace Insights from Rwanda and Serbia.
I don’t think additional commentary is required on my part.
I really wanted to share some video so you too can enjoy the fruits of your tax dollars, but sadly, none are available. You would think this would be something NWC would want to be fully available, but, well, I guess not.
To finish with a serious side note, the loss of focus in Newport is not something new in the last couple of years. This is a long standing drift of a few decades.
For this specific panel, these are all serious people and the argument could be made that they address serious issues, but is the Naval War College - and the finite money, people, and time that it has to serve the world’s second largest navy (still getting used to saying that) the correct venue?
Some assumedly well meaning people made decisions, purchased additional positions and departments, and headed certain directions that may have been more suitable at a different institution. I don’t know, Oberlin College? Maybe Bryn Mawr College … Brown University if you squint a bit … but again, I think it is very fair to ask if this area of study is really the highest and best use of the time, money, and faculty at the Naval. War. College.
The Naval War College, incidentally, of a nation whose military has not done a very good job of seeing threats, fighting threats, and winning wars in the last few decades - not to mention needs to think real hard about what it will mean to be the world’s second largest navy.
Winners have the luxury of vanity. Those on the struggle bus need to master the fundamentals and work harder.